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Jeff and Michele's Favorite Engagement Session Locations

While there are dozens of locations to choose from for your engagement session, it's best to find ones that offer a variety of spots and backdrops to use for portraits and all within a close range to one another. Our couples often ask for suggestions when it comes to engagement session locations, so we wanted to offer some insight about our favorite places to determine which might be a great fit for you! 

Bernheim Arboretum Engagement Session

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

One of our all-time favorite locations for engagement sessions is the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest -- for many reasons. Not only does the Bernheim have over 15,000 acres of land, including a 600-acre arboretum, there is a lot of gorgeous natural light to match the endless amounts of space there.

Louisville Engagement Photographer Bernheim Arboretum

It's also a fantastic choice for a spring or summer engagement session with a natural or organic vibe, since the endless varieties of flowers and shrubs offer beautiful backdrops for engagement photos. 

There is a $5 per carload fee that Bernheim charges visitors. Sessions do not have to be scheduled with a Bernheim representative.

Historic Whitehall House and Gardens

For a more elegant engagement session, one of our top recommendations is the historic (and beautiful!) Whitehall Mansion and Estate Garden. The mansion itself is a classy two-story building with tall white pillars that give off a timeless vibe we just love. And when you combine the home with the arboretum and gardens, there are few places in all of Kentucky that match the romantic ambiance of this place. We have loads of unique floral and greenery backdrops to play with for engagement sessions here, and we simply can't rave about it enough!

Whitehall charges a $100 fee and requires that sessions be scheduled in advance.

Falls of the Ohio Engagement Session
Falls of the Ohio Engagement Portraits

Falls of the Ohio

Although this one isn't actually within the Kentucky state borders, the Falls of the Ohio State Park is so close to Louisville (right across the Ohio River on the Indiana riverside) and is an option we love to suggest to our couples! Most people come here to look at the fossil beds, but we come here for the walking trails and the riverside views, which are perfect settings for scenic and fun engagement sessions!

Falls of the Ohio Engagement Photographer

Falls of the Ohio charges no fees to use the ground at the time we're writing this article! However, if you're coming from Kentucky to the Falls, there is an avoidable toll bridge. Sessions do not have to be scheduled with a Falls representative.

Best Engagement Session Locations in Louisville Kentucky

Yew Dell

Are you sensing a theme here? What can we say: we love gardens for engagement sessions!

Yew Dell Botanical Gardens is another top-choice engagement location in the Louisville area that we can't get enough of. Between the abundance of natural light, colorful plants, fountains, and brick pathways -- not to mention a simple yet stunning stone castle! -- there is a lot to love about this engagement session option. 

Yew Dell does charge a $75 fee to host an engagement session. All session must be scheduled in advance.

Greenhouse Wallitsch Garden Center Engagement

Wallitsch Garden Center

For a great indoor option on a rainy day, we love using the Wallitsch Garden Center! The greenhouses on site have a nice balance of giving an outdoor feel and natural light, all while being "inside" so we won't have to worry about a gloomy day. 

Wallitsch hosts our engagement sessions at their discretion and must be verified in advance.  

Waterfall Destinations

If you're interested in finding a more epic and scenic location to make an adventure out of your engagement session, please message us. We have a few waterfall places that are perfect for engagement portraits, and would love to bring a couple adventurous souls to our secret spots!

Louisville Engagement Photographer
Louisville Engagement Photographer

Want to try another spot?

We like to pick locations that allow us to shoot in various lighting conditions. A location with high trees or buildings that also has areas that aren't surrounded allow us to shoot with plenty of good light, regardless of where the sun is. With that said, we're open to any sentimental, destination, or other types of locations you have in mind. 

If you have a spot that you'd like to try out, let us know!

If you enjoyed reading about our favorite engagement session locations, head on over to read another great blog post, How to Prepare for Your Engagement Session

Looking for an engagement photographer? Contact us!

We’re Jeff and Michele, a husband and wife wedding photographer team based in Louisville, Kentucky. Your engagement and wedding photography experience is our top priority — we want you to cherish it forever!

We’d love the opportunity to be your photographers. Reach out to us online or give us a call at (502) 551-5799. We look forward to hearing from you!

Learn more about Louisville Wedding Photographers and Lexington Wedding Photographers, Jeff & Michele by clicking here!

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11 Questions to Feel Confident About Choosing Your Wedding Photographer

Finding the Best Wedding Photographers for Your Wedding

Questions for Wedding Photographer

So, you've gotten engaged and you've been plunged into the strange world of planning out your wedding! Isn't it wonderful?

Of course, right?!

If you haven't started looking at photographers already, you've probably heard that they're the most important and critical vendor decision you'll make. If that's not intimidating enough, you've maybe realized that the choice isn't between a few good options — there are about a million photographers out there! And truth be told, some people have had not-so-great experiences that have left a bad taste in their mouth about their wedding photos, so the choice is a big and important one for sure. 

Which is why we created this guide to help. One night after an engagement session, we discussed with one of our brides some of the things she learned that helped make her feel confident and relieved in choosing her wedding photographer (or rather, "photographers" since she got both of us!) and decided that other brides would benefit, just like she did.

So, without further ado, let's jump right in!

Anatomy of the Best Wedding Photographers

We feel that there are categories of things to look for when it comes to finding the best wedding photographers to care for your wedding.

We've broken it down to:

● Style & Ability: Their photos should make you feel the way you want them to make you feel while retaining a timeless and talented look that won’t quickly go out of style.

●Interpersonal Skills & Client Care: Your wedding photographer should have the ability to make you comfortable so you look relaxed and enjoy having them there. Also, they need to be able to manage their time and others, not only to help your big day stay on schedule, but to rescue it from being "too behind." They also need to be able to confidently direct groups of people for formal photos, without seeming like a pushy jerk. 

● Photo Care: They should have the know-how and equipment to ensure that your photos are kept safe, even when hard drives crash.

● Business stability: Let's face it, if they don't have their actual business in order, it will affect how well they can serve you. In Louisville, there was a photographer that made the news because of her shady business practices that left couples high and dry.

● Business Offerings: Will they also include and/or design an album? Can they rush order your save the dates? If the photographer isn’t offering some things you want, then you may need to look elsewhere.

Best Wedding Photographer Louisville
Best Wedding Photographer Louisville

How Do You Find a Wedding Photographer? Ask These 11 Questions

Now it’s time for the list! Ask these 11 questions, and you'll be well on your way to finding the best photographer for your wedding.

1. "Do their photos make me feel the way I want my photos feel on our 25th anniversary?"

This is a question for you to ask yourself. Are their photos so trendy that it'll be yesterday's fad by the time you hit your 2nd anniversary? Does it look like they're throwing Instagram filters on it, or adding a bunch of flare to make up for their lack of ability? Also, something to consider: are they including a distracting watermark on all their images? Perhaps they won’t deliver files with watermarks to you, but some do! So, be sure to ask ahead of time.

2. "Do they have lots of good photos in both bright and low-light or do only the first few on their website look good?"

Look beyond the first few photos! Pay special attention to color photographs as black and white are more likely to hide imperfections. Look for too-white wedding dresses or too-dark tuxes; the wedding dress shouldn’t be a giant white blob in every photo. Make sure their photos are consistently in focus, especially in low-light. Ask to see full weddings, and look for consistency in how the photos make you feel. If they refuse to show you a full wedding, take that as a red flag!

how to choose a wedding photographer

3. "Do they have good, consistent reviews over the years, and at least some recent good reviews?"

Photographers that care about their business are constantly trying to serve their clients in a way that leads to 5-star reviews. Be sure to check their reviews on regulated websites such as TheKnot.com. Many websites such as Facebook are very unregulated when it comes to reviews.

Don't worry if they don't have "the most" reviews. The style you choose may not be the most popular, or the photographer you're looking at may do higher-end weddings, but a lower volume when compared to someone else. As long as they have consistent, good reviews, you're probably good to go on this point. 

4. "How many backup cameras and lenses do you have and are they as good as your main camera in low-light?"

If they don't have extra cameras and lenses, watch out. Camera shutters and lenses can fail! Having at least one backup camera and a few lenses per shooter is absolutely standard. 

Kentucky Wedding Photographer

5. "Will you have a second photographer?"

You want someone to be with your fiancé and with you while you're each getting ready. Having two shooters to capture both you and your fiancé’s reaction during your first look or when you walk down the aisle at a minimum is best. Also, do you want to have another way of ensuring you have more backups of your photos? Then make sure there's going to be a second shooter. If possible, use a husband and wife team. Sure, we might be biased, but having two people that have been through it all, and who also work together as a team all the time is a huge advantage to ensuring a smooth experience.

*Bonus. Ask: "What's the second shooter's experience with photographing weddings?"

If the photographer seems to get uncomfortable, I wouldn't put much stock in having that second shooter. A second shooter could be anyone, even someone with hardly any skills that was booked perhaps even the week before your wedding. However, a caring and wise photographer will hire someone with credentials.

Louisville Wedding Photographer

6. "How will you keep our photos safe during and after our wedding day?"

Make sure they back up your photos multiple times! We personally use cameras that back up data to two cards at once. This, coupled with shooting film means that we have our clients wedding photos on up to 7 different sources at any given time.

Once we get the photos uploaded to the computer, we back them up to another hard drive, which is backed up again, and then finally backed up again to a hard drive that is taken off-site for extra protection against destruction by potential flooding, tornados, or fire.

If the photographer you’re considering doesn’t have a plan to backup at least three times, and preferably one in a different location from the rest of the backups, be wary. God forbid, but if their house burns down before they deliver your photos, will the original files be safe?

7. "What size files will you be delivering? Will I receive printing rights?"

Best Wedding Photographer in Kentucky

This is a two-part question. If you want to have the freedom to make large prints for years, make sure you'll be getting the high-resolution files. These files are typically 3mb-10mb, sometimes a little smaller or larger.

It’s nice to have smaller files (500gb-1mb typically) for uploading to social media. These files still look great but aren’t compressed to look pixelated. But, if you’re printing above a 5x7, be sure to get larger files that will look great printed!

It's OK if they don't include printing rights, but just know that, if you want prints, you'll have to purchase from them directly. If that's the case, then ask for a list of the cost of prints, and make sure it's worth it. It can be a huge advantage to order directly through the photographer if they calibrate their monitors to be color accurate and use a professional lab.

Often a photographer may refuse to grant print rights. This is not intended to be mean or to get more money out of you, but because they care about their craft so much and want to ensure that the final product of the print comes out looking as amazing as it is supposed to. While you may have access to less expensive printers, oftentimes these can show inaccurate colors and not last nearly as long as professional prints.

We offer both print rights and custom printing so that our brides have a choice.

8. "Do you have business insurance?"

If they don't, sometimes venues won't even allow them to photograph on the premises. But perhaps even more importantly, having insurance is also a good sign that the photographer has invested not only in quality gear but also in their business as a long-term craft and means of earning a living. These types of photographers are more likely to provide an awesome experience and a quality product.

9. “What will happen if you can’t make it to the wedding?”

Although this is probably the last thing you want to think about, making sure that your candidate has a legitimate backup plan provided they can’t come is HUGE! Be sure to ask who their backup is. Are their backup photographer(s) of comparable style and ability?

Kentucky Wedding Photographer

10. “May I see your contract?”

A good photographer comes with a good contract. Reading the contract before booking is a really great idea! We suggest asking for them to explain any terms you don’t understand. If the photographer does not have a contract, even if they are a family friend, don’t book them!

After you've talked with the candidate photographer ask:

11. "Do I like them? How did they make me feel?"

This is one of the MOST important aspects of choosing your wedding photographer. Make sure you LIKE them! If they don't make you feel comfortable and relaxed, that will follow you throughout the day and shape your experience. Again, they will be with you the WHOLE DAY.

Natural looking photography is a product of having a natural energy and rapport between yourself and the photographer. This might not be an immediate rapport, especially if they’re a little shy, but if a photographer really rubs you the wrong way, don’t go with them just to save a buck.

You don’t have to meet them in person, although you can if they are willing. A phone call or Skype session should be enough to find out if you click! Remember, the photographer will help make or break your wedding experience and how you look in your photos (and how you feel about them later)!

Wedding Photographer in Louisville KY

Let's Wrap It Up

Now, no photographer will meet all the standards perfectly, but they should aim for excellence in all these areas, and should be able to address each one of your questions.

If you found this resource helpful, please share to help others!

If you're a bride, planner, photographer or someone else with an opinion, tell us what you think! What other important questions did we miss?

If you have any other questions for us or would like to reach out and share your experience, please feel free to contact us!
 

Thank you and happy wedding photographer hunting!

Warmly,

Jeff & Michele
 

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How to Prepare for Your Engagement Session

How to Prepare for Your Engagement Session

One of the things we love most about our work is getting to know our couples prior to the wedding ceremony. And engagement sessions are the perfect way to do just that!

However, we also know that this is the first time many of our clients are taking professional photographs together — which often leads to a little nervousness in the beginning of the session. Whether you’re unsure about what to wear to your engagement session or how best to prepare for it in advance, we’ve got a list of quick tips to help you:

1. Choose an outfit that will look flattering and great on camera.

Engagement Photographer Louisville | Kentucky Wedding Photographer

When going through your closet or maybe even ordering something special from to select your engagement session outfit, look for clothes that are soft and muted in color or go with something white, off-white, or blush — what we like to call “neutrals.” Tight, repetitive patterns and flashy colors can drag the eye away from focusing on the intimacy of you and your soon-to-be spouse.

And if you have a hard time selecting just one outfit, bring a backup option. Although we like to focus most of the session on your top choice, it can help ease nerves a bit to know you have a second outfit ready to go. When in doubt: ask our opinion, we love to help!

Want more inspiration for your outfit? Be sure to check out our Engagement Session Wardrobe Board!

Also, if your looking for something fun to wear just for your engagement session, consider something like Rent the Runway.

2. Use the opportunity to get dolled up.

Louisville Engagement Photographer | Kentucky Wedding Photographer

It’s not every day that you get portraits taken together, so use the engagement session as a chance to get your hair and makeup professionally done! It’ll also immediately make you feel more confident going into the session, especially since these photos are ones you’ll likely want to hang on your walls!

And if you already have your hair and makeup artist selected for your wedding day, you may ask to use this as your “trial” with them to test out a few looks before the session. Or head out to dinner after we’re finished taking photos, since you’ll both look dressed up and ready for a night on the town!

3. Know what to expect during the engagement session.

Engagement Photographer in Lexington KY | Kentucky Wedding Photographer

Looking for a little insight about what our engagement sessions are like? We tell our couples that you’ll quickly learn our four basic poses, although we may make slight adjustments here and there. You both will catch on pretty quickly, so no need to worry!

We also suggest to remember that this is a time when you two are simply spending time together. Remember to breathe, feel as relaxed as you can, and be conversational (both with us and with the love of your life!). It’s totally normal to feel nervous, but know that we have you covered and want the entire experience to feel personable and easy. Be yourselves and enjoy the moment!

4. Can we bring our pet?

Engagement Photos with Pets | Kentucky wedding photographer

Absolutely! We love have your furry friends join us. We suggest having someone else come along so that your pet(s) can go with them after their done with their photos.

Another great tip if you're hoping to bring your dog along: take them to a dog park and let them run around for a few minutes! This will help them to be a little more relaxed at the session, since they'll likely be more worn out and ready to sit for a few poses.

5. Where should we have our photos taken?

Engagement Photographer in Louisville | Kentucky Wedding Photographer

We have a few favorite places that we suggest. Generally, we are looking for a location that has several different scenes that are close together. That way we aren't spending too much time going from one place to the other.

6. About what time should we plan to begin taking photos?

Engagement Photography Session Tips
What to Wear to Your Engagement Session

About 2 hours before sunset is the best time since the light is prettiest. So, for example, if sunset is at 7:30pm, we'll usually plan to start around 5:30pm.

Looking for an engagement photographer? Contact us!

We’re Jeff and Michele, a husband and wife wedding photographer team based in Louisville, Kentucky. Your engagement and wedding photography experience is our top priority — we want you to cherish it forever! We’d love the opportunity to be your photographers. Reach out to us online or give us a call at (502) 551-5799. We look forward to hearing from you!

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